Practice Relating to Rule 143. Dissemination of International Humanitarian Law among the Civilian Population
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) states:
The four Geneva Conventions and [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] oblige all contracting parties to disseminate the text of the conventions as widely as possible … This shall particularly be accomplished … by encouraging the civilian population to study these conventions … Considering their responsibility in times of armed conflict, … civilian authorities shall be fully acquainted with the text of the Conventions and the Protocol Additional to them.
The manual further states:
Effective implementation is depending on dissemination of humanitarian law. Providing information about it is the necessary basis to create a common consciousness and to further the attitude of peoples towards greater acceptance of these principles as an achievement of the social and cultural development of mankind.
In 1996, in reply to a formal question from a member of parliament, a Minister of State of Germany, referring to Article 83(1) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I and Article 19 of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, stated:
The Federal Government supports the dissemination of International Humanitarian Law in all areas and at all levels of state. It hereby fulfils its duties resulting from international public law. The four Geneva Conventions and the two Additional Protocols oblige all contracting parties to disseminate the wording of the Conventions as widely as possible … This shall be done in particular by … stimulating the civilian population to study the Conventions. Military and civil offices shall, in times of an armed conflict [and] with regard to their responsibilit[ies], be entirely familiar with the wording of the Conventions and the Additional Protocols.
The Minister of State further stated that, in addition to members of the armed forces, civil defence personnel, fire brigades and border guards receive instruction in IHL. According to the Minister, “aspects of international humanitarian law” are part of the general instruction in first aid given to the civilian population by aid organizations. He also pointed out the commitment of the German Red Cross Society with respect to the dissemination of IHL among the civilian population and stated that the material for the teaching of soldiers is, within certain limits, available free of charge for interested citizens.
In 2001, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Germany stated:
The protection of children in armed conflicts is guaranteed by article 77 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts and article 4 of the Additional Protocol relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts. Both of these protocols were ratified by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 and thus became national law. The Federal Government contributes to spreading knowledge about the rules of international humanitarian law in armed conflicts, especially by relevant training in the armed forces. Above and beyond this, it provides general information that is mainly used in training staff and helpers in the medical and other aid organizations.
In 2009, in its report to the UN General Assembly on the status of the 1977 Additional Protocols, Germany stated:
Germany actively promotes and disseminates International Humanitarian Law. In 2007 the German Federal Foreign Office, the German Federal Ministry of Defence and the German Red Cross … published and broadly distributed the collection “Documents on International Humanitarian Law”, containing documents of central importance to international humanitarian law in the English and German languages.